Improving distinction between local and global topics for more productive communications

Something I find unusual in the community site which didn’t happen with the forum before is that when I decide to create a local community topic (e.g. Thailand) vs a global topic, I did not expect participants from outside the community to join.

Communities have a lot of contexts, history, and different members and I find it very unproductive that outsiders add their opinion, often unrelated or conflicting, and this can easily end up with an endless debate and simply discourage the local community members to participate in a local topic.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect people’s opinions and when looking for a solution to a global problem, I always create a global topic.

My feeling is that:

  • the community category may not be prominent enough and people thought this was a global topic
  • there may be an incentive (badges) to post a lot of replies
  • topics are often reached from the landing page

My proposal, for now, would be to:

  • remove the visible posts from the Communities on the landing page
  • makes the communities label more prominent with a country flag if possible
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Previous discussion here may be relevant. I raised the issue around users potentially feeling overwhelmed by too many posts from local community categories that they don’t want to participate in. It seems like the issue you’re raising may be similar, but coming from the other side.

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I have to admit that I don’t really understand the problem you are describing. Aren’t the local community topics usually in another language than English?

I am one of people who commented - and sorry if that was unwanted.

But have you considered mentioning that you look for feedback from local mappers and you are not interested in feedback from people not mapping there in the initial post? If I remember right it was not mentioned there.

Also, maybe use local language rather than English?

No need to apologize :pray:, I am not directing this issue at anyone specific, I am just concerned by the number of participants and the consequent amount of replies due to the lack of history/context that can quickly become overwhelming, particularly for a small community.

I created local topics under the category “ประเทศไทย (Thailand)” the same way I have done in the forum before.

We didn’t have this problem in the forum so I assumed this community category is not prominent enough.

When I am looking for feedback from other communities, I create global topics under e.g. Help and Support. I always assumed this is the way it is intended, or I am wrong?

Wow, that’s a little far-fetched, no? :wink:

First of all, there are still small communities often expat-driven like Thailand that use English primarily for communication and wiki guidelines.

A quick search through the old forum content and wiki country projects shows English as the main language for many countries, especially in Asia (Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka…)

Second, there are 58 countries using English as the official language and 17 others using it as de factor language in government/education:

So making the assumption a post is local vs global based on the English language alone will definitely not work.

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This is certainly one of the biggest changes from the old forum (and I agree with @ezekielf that it is related to the discussion about how users can keep track of categories they are interested in).

A few observations:

  • Many users here were not active in the old forum so may not share your (understandable) assumptions that “communities” here are a continuation of "users: " sub-forums in the old forum.
  • Names such as “users: Thailand” in the old forum may have conveyed more clearly that the sub-forums were intended for local groups, there is no equivalent to the “users:” qualifier here.
  • Categories and tags appear on the same line in feeds and landing pages, and the distinction between them is not highlighted very much. E.g. at the moment my feed has an RFC on salt graduation towers that appears as “General Talk, Poland”. It takes a bit of concentration to understand that the “Poland” displayed here has a different meaning (tag) from “Thailand” (category) displayed below the topic you refer to. Similarly “latam” appears quite often in my feed, sometimes as a community and sometimes as a tag on a more general topic.
  • The word “community” itself is somewhat undefined, the entire forum is describe as “OpenStreetMap Community”, perhaps the communities category would be better labelled something like “local communities”? Although I realise “local” doesn’t work well where the community is defined more by language than location, or when it covers a region as large as Africa or Latin America.
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Presentation of thread is completely different - previously one went into specific category (and I visited only Poland subcategory).

Now threads are mixed with each other in “new” listing. Skipping German/French/etc ones is easy but for remaining ones…

I also found no way to silence category and stop its threads from being listed in “new threads” view.

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That’s still easy - you just have to add a link to the favourites of your browser.
For Poland e.g. it is (Polska (Poland) - OpenStreetMap Community).

But I found it on the other hand rather positive to recognize now interesting topics in other subcategories. I consider that as well suited for an international project.
By entering the list with “new” topics I can easily get rid off all remaining topics (often in local language) by the “ignore” button.

Muting a category will have the desired effect.

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It is quite easy to set up your startpage or categories view in such a way you will only see those categories you are interested in by muting all other categories or even easier set a bookmark in your browser if you want to limit yourself to a single (regional) subcategory (as mentioned above).

Anyhow that will not solve the problem @cmoffroad has put up here because the standard startpage setting for other users remains the list of “Latest” topics out of all categories if they did not limit their category view as well. So anyone seeing an interesting topic in a language spoken by him/herself may feel the urge to take part, not realizing that his/her comment may not be welcome due to lack of regional knowledge.

A similar issue had been raised here.

One could see this as an advantage compared to the old forum because this stimulates more international input which I personally do not consider to be negative but in certain cases it can be disturbing for sure.

I do not know if there is any option to hide all topics out of the Communities category from the “Latest” list of the startpage so you could see these only when entering a certain community page. And if that should be possible, would it be supported by the majority of users?

As long as there is no other option it could be helpful to point out what you are looking at in your original post by simply mentioning “Please do only reply if you are not part of the regional/local community or have sufficient knowledge of the regional/local context”.

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Yes, I can confirm that it works